On Sunnybank the first conversation of the afternoon was with a man and woman. When approached the man at first wasn't paying attention but it turned out that the lady was a Christian over in Australia visiting her sister (and her husband). This was encouraging to hear so the conversation was turned toward the man.
When asked what he though would happen after we die he abruptly responded, "Nothing". When asked why he simply said, "Because I believe it". Over the next short discussion it came to light that he didn't believe in God or an afterlife and he didn't actually have evidence or argument to support such claims. He was then shown how we know God exists and why this has bearing on our lives as God has given rules to live by. He was shown the seriousness of his choice but sadly the bus arrived before the law could be used to reveal sin.
There was a following conversation with three young men. They professed to be Christian but was absolutely ashamed of talking about Christ or really engaging in the conversation. It was sad to see that people who proclaimed to love the same Saviour were so scared of publicly talking about Him! They were challenged to read the book of Acts and come face to face with how the first Christians acted in light of the good news of salvation.
There were a few quick chats scattered throughout the afternoon, a young Asian couple, a young lady, Randall, Banksoon who all in about two minutes, were shown God's existence, saw their guilt in the mirror of God's law and came to understand the desperate reality of their current eternity. Each when asked about the way to Heaven had guesses which were along the lines of "be better" or "stop doing bad". At this moment for all of them their buses arrived and they took tracts and headed off.
There was a scary conversation with Jerry and man who had been spoken to before who remembered the gospel quite clearly and hadn't trusted in Christ. He had in his hands the very offer of eternal life and currently had traded it for the pleasures of this world. He was challenged strongly to not just intellectually understand the gospel but to respond to Christ, trusting in Him to pay for his sin. Some examples were given stressing the seriousness of this decision and the foolishness of trading Christ for the pleasures of this world and Jerry said he would consider it tonight.
Overall it was another successful outreach, where people who didn't know who God is or what He had done were exposed to the reality of sin, death and judgement and the beauty of God's gift of forgiveness for those who believe. Please be praying for those who heard in part or in whole the message of salvation.
On Wednesday afternoon in Brisbane City the team were out with a desire to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light, so that others may become children of the King! That is exactly what happened over the course of the afternoon. With a focus on proclaiming the gospel God used this simple obedience of unworthy vessels to bring people to understand who He is and what He has done to save sinners!
An early conversation was with Breno. He was a deeply broken man, trying to hold his life together. He has been married for three months and is now in the throws of a messy divorce. He said that if the topic was raised only a few weeks earlier he'd never have wanted to talk but now he wanted to know. Over the course of a lengthy discussion he came to understand the good news of how Christ saves sinners and he seemed to grasp it.
It took a number of tries for him to understand as his Hindu background lead him to think that it was personal actions which contributed to our right standing before God. At the end of the discussion he said that he would open up the Bible he has at home and start reading tonight! Praise God for using the pain of divorce to open a mans ears to the gospel!
Another conversation took place with Silvester. It was a weird conversation, in that, he knew the gospel and a lot about Christianity. Sadly this meant nothing of his spiritual health as he was as dead as could be. He had no desire to attend Church or read his Bible, rather he just wanted to live however he saw fit. Because God "cramped his style" he was happy to ditch God for his own ends. He was warned and warned and warned. The conversation lasted almost forty minutes as Silvester was pleaded with, shown the foolishness and gravity of his decision and was encouraged to open up God's word today and to attend a local Church on Sunday.
He made no promises and at the end of it all was warned, that this may have been God's final opportunity for him to trust in Christ.
An exciting conversation happened with a Frenchman. Often European's are very liberal and quite proud of it and so their arguments basically range from, "I don't believe that to I don't want to believe that". But Irvin was different. He was similar in that being what he originally said but as the law and gospel was shown he was moved from apathy and rejection to intrigue. He wanted to know more. He came to comprehend the simple gospel and actually said, "That's beautiful" in response.
He was challenged with the serious call the gospel makes that although it is free, you will give up everything for the sake of Christ. He said he would have to count the cost, think about this and said he would start reading his Bible tonight! It was a privilege to be a part of his journey to comprehension!
There were a scattering of other conversations with "atheists" all five of whom preferred personal freedom over truth and despite not having arguments against God, all struggling to defend their declaration that there is no God when asked some simple questions they all ended up leaving quite quickly. Most were silenced by God's law but didn't want to know of the solution because that would require the acknowledgement of their guilt.
Over the afternoon there were many other people who heard of Christ, so please raise up those mentioned here and any others who came to understand the way to Heaven this afternoon to our gracious God that He would use this simple message to save many!
On Tuesday afternoon at Woodridge there were again seven out on the team meaning conversations galore! So many people stopped to chat and because of the area the team were able to spread around.
An early conversation took place with Val who had a Christian background but was lost because she still was mixing Jesus' sacrifice with her own goodness. She seemed to understand the gospel being able to repeat it back as well as answer questions about it showing comprehension but she didn't seem overly moved by it. She then raised that her son has pneumonia and has now been found HIV positive. She wasn't doing this in argumentation toward God but then she raised that even worse he is heading for Hell.
This was used to point out the seriousness of her and her son's predicament. She can't offer him or encourage him with God's terms of peace if she isn't at peace with God herself. I encouraged her this day to count the cost of following Christ and to give up her rebellion, trusting in Christ alone for her salvation and to point her son to the God who saves sinners.
As the conversations from Tuesday are being reflected on to share some testimonies, it is exciting to see so many conversations took place! What a joy it is to serve the Lord!
There was Dava who with a bit of prompting was able to articulate the gospel and said that he is trusting in Christ and said he didn't read his Bible much but was encouraged this week to start reading the gospel of Mark so that the team can ask him about it next week!
Javan also professed to be a Christian but was in part relying on his obedience to help him get to Heaven. With some checking questions he came to understand the gospel and he understood the difference from what he was saying to what Jesus has said. He was encouraged to trust in Christ this very day and said he would. He was asked to have a read of Romans 3-5 to clarify the gospel.
There was another chat with Kyeisha who didn't want God to be a being, just a force. She wanted freedom to live her own way and so she rejected God's person-hood. She didn't have any reasons to believe that God isn't God but was adamant on it. Sadly the conversation didn't last long as she had to run to her bus.
The following chat with John took a similar turn, he too didn't want God to be a being, just a force. Instead of trying to show him that is foolish, the law was used to reveal sin. He acknowledged his guilt straight away and came to realise that he was headed to Hell. He was pointed to the Saviour and given a tract as he had to run for his train.
An exciting conversation to round out the afternoon was with Joe. At first he was being silly suggesting that humanity will live another life on Jupiter or something like that but then was just taken through God's law. He saw his guilt straight away and his mouth was stopped. Then he came to understand the seriousness of sin that it is rebellion against God and God says that sin deserves Hell. When he comprehended this he realised that if he died tonight and God gave him justice he'd be sent to Hell.
When asked what the solution was Joe was unsure. He had a few guesses but mostly didn't know. He was shown the glorious gospel and for the first time in his life after understanding that it is a free gift he said in his Kiwi accent, "Wow that's fantastic!" He had tears in his eyes and said he wanted to read his Bible tonight and asked for a place to read. He then asked if there was a Church he could attend locally and was recommended one!
The joy on his face as he understood the gospel was one of the most precious moments that a Christian could witness. As someone for the first time understands the gospel and by the looks trusted in Jesus alone for their forgiveness! Praise the kind and merciful God who is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love!
Friday’s mist turned into a rain on Saturday and, sadly, this wasn’t conducive to people coming out - or if they did, to them being interested in stopping for a chat!
Yet tracts were received, and I did have two conversations.
The first was with a homeless guy I hadn’t met before. I sat next to him and spend some time getting to know him and, of course, I shared the law and Gospel.
The second was with a young man who went to church, but didn’t seem to have any understanding of the Gospel - which I was able to explain.
I also open air preached in the rain to the few passing by.
Sunday saw the sun come out again, and with it people. So tracts were distributed, and Gospel conversations occurred.
Two people walked passed and received a tract. A while later, they came passed again, and before I realised it was the same people, I had offered them another tract (they responded with - “you’ve already given us one”). Finally they came past one more time and this time I said: “I know I’ve already give you one of these, but can I ask you - will you go to heaven when you die?”. They engaged, and we had a short conversation where I was able to reason with them about the realities of life and death - and the hope of eternal life found in the Gospel.
A man had walked past me twice on the previous day and had refused tracts both times. But on the second time I smiled and said, “Will you get a third opportunity? This is important.” Well, today he came past again - his third time! :) This time he smiled, took the tract and moved on. But he then came back and we had an opportunity to chat. It turns out he works in one of the shops close by. He had a reasonable grasp of the Gospel already, but seemed to be in need of some discipling and encouragement. He had to head back to work, but I asked him to contact me.
The outreach finished with open air preaching in Cathedral Square. There were quite a few people about. And I was encouraged to get a new heckler that asked some good questions. I did my best to bring my answers back to the Gospel. During the dialogue, I noticed a guy watching the exchange intently. Later, one of the team was able to have a conversation with that guy, and I was very encouraged to learn he was open to the Gospel.
Yet, the preaching wasn’t without opposition. One of the market stall owners decided to play harsh music loudly in an attempt to disrupt the preaching and later he had some ‘words’ with one of the team as they were passing by handing out tracts.
Thank you for your continued prayer for our Gospel efforts in Christchurch. May “Christ” continue to be glorified by His “Church” as we obey His command to go.
Thursday was even more encouraging than Wednesday.
Both Andy & I were out, and we had a wonderful time of ministry in Cathedral Square. In fact, things were going so well, we didn’t even leave to go to the Eastgate bus stops.
I always carry a Bible to give away, and Gospel booklets - but I rarely give them away now - relying more on the wonderful Operation 513 tracts (you can now buy these in NZ via the new web store). Well today, in just my second conversation, I had a wonderful follow up opportunity with a young lady who declared she wanted to trust in Christ!
I didn’t know what to do. I never get into this situation! But what a wonderful situation to be in. So I took her through the law and Gospel again, to make sure she understood it, to make sure her motivations were right, and that she had counted the cost. She took a Bible and a Gospel booklet, and a contact card for my local church. Her salvation is in God’s hands. If she is trusting Christ, I hope to see her again soon.
As I was recovering from that conversation, a young man approached - he seemed familiar and it turns out we had talked to him on Sumner beach during our summer mission, and also at the Sparks in the Park outreach. It was great to see him again, and to see that he had really been wrestling with the Gospel. He too took a contact card for my church, and also a Gospel booklet.
Straight after that, a man who gets very angry at us every time he sees us came past. He started spewing his usual hatred, but I had an unusual calmness (I guess I’m just getting used to it) and love for this guy. I took the effort to simply listen to him, and acknowledge what he said. At one point I had to qualify that when I said “ok” it didn’t mean I agreed, just that I was acknowledging that I was listening. I was so encouraged to see him soften ever so slightly. And I started to get an appreciation for what motivated his hatred. He didn’t stay too long. But I’m hoping the next time he will stay longer, and that we would eventually be able to start dialoguing.
I was on a roll, and feeling bold. I saw a young man sitting in the corner of The Square reading. So I decided to approach and offer a tract. Well, that young man was very keen to discuss the Gospel. He followed, and even anticipated, the logic of the existence of God, conscience, justice, the law, the heart of the law, and the Gospel. And then he said, “I want to start reading the Bible”. I rarely give away a Bible, but today I had two opportunities to do so! Andy came to my rescue, and was able to give the young man the one he carries to give away. He also took a Gospel booklet.
It was at this point that Andy & I decided to open air preach.
By this stage, it was starting to get dark, and the outreach would soon be drawing to a close. But Gospel opportunities kept presenting themselves. I was bounding with energy and feeling unstoppable.
About six high school students walked into The Square, and I asked them: “May I ask you a question, it’s a deep question… will you go to heaven when you die?”. They were keen to discuss. And it turned into quite a captivating conversation. I was sharing the Gospel, and they were quietly soaking it in. I’d finish, and they were just staring at me, and so I would go through it again, in a slightly different way, and then again. At this point I said. Guys, I’m not going to stop until you leave. So I just kept sharing the law and the Gospel, and calling them to trust in Christ. Eventually, one of them broke the spell and said, “is this the point where we leave?”. I smiled, shook their hands and gave them all tracts. They all seemed appreciative. Oh Lord, bring Yourself glory in saving their souls!
Friday saw a damp day -- it wasn’t raining, but there was a fine mist about. A team of three faithfully stood outside the hospital making a stand for those that can’t save themselves: the unborn. Andy had at least one solid Gospel conversation (the guy took a booklet).
We also had a situation where a young couple walked past, and we noticed them looking back. The look on her face spoke volumes. Andy tried to initiate a conversation, but they weren’t interested, and walked away. I was holding the sign that starts with “There is hope”. And I want them to know it.
After preaching in Cathedral Square, Andy and I decided to move outside the Ara campus on the south east corner of the central city. The boldness from the day before was still with me, and I was handing out tracts to everyone that passed as we went. And many people took those tracts. Four ladies who were leaving a building took one, and it was wonderful hearing them start to discuss the tract as we moved on.
As soon as we got to Ara, I boldly started approaching people, and I couldn’t believe how receptive these young people were. In about an hour and half, I reckon I had about 8 sets of Gospel conversations. Andy had one long conversation - and the young man expressed a desire to visit our church.
Oh, may what’s happening continue to happen! Thank you for praying. Please keep praying! And join us. While we share with people, so many more walk past that we can’t talk to. And we want to reach as many people as we can with the precious Gospel message - don’t we?
Till the nets are full! :)
Over the next two weeks there will be a team heading out into Hobart’s Dark Mofo festival with the Gospel. We will be preaching, handing out literature and engaging with the spiritual seekers that frequent the festival.
Please be in prayer for us during this time, it is a celebration of all that is dark and there is much of the demonic that is explicitly invited into its festivities.
Any Gospel minded Christians who are Hobart locals (or not so local) and keen to join the outreach please contact me via the website.
The cold weather has continued this last couple of weeks and while it means that some people stay away (mercifully it seems that we have warm weather opponents down here), there have been some great discussions and debates.
Time and again I am struck by the reality that appearances can be deceiving. I am often surprised by the people that respond to the outreach in Hobart CBD. Some that are very young will ably argue their case with grace and wisdom, whilst others who are twice their age and their so-called elders and betters cannot even manage rational discussion for 5 minutes. But likewise, there is zeal and passion to spare in some folks much older than I, when it is hard to get much more than a “meh” out of some 25-year-olds. People that look rough around the edges and very belligerent walk close by to murmur “keep preaching brother”, yet someone in a high-priced suit will spew foul language and threaten violence if the Gospel is preached any longer.
God is good and patient with me as always and continues to teach me to take people as they are and behave not based on how they appear. And likewise, He is teaching me to pray for people consistently, I have watched numerous blessed examples of people changed by the Gospel from violently opposed to loving and following the savior.
Some of the discussions we have had this last week:
Mr C. is a Buddhist and looking to go to Nepal to meditate, study and seek enlightenment for the next couple of months. He and I have discussed issues of faith and particularly the Bible many times before. It was good to see him again and have a chance to speak with him again. We both talked about the perspective of our respective faiths and there was a little debating back and forth. At the end I wished him a safe journey and hope that he is found by Christ on his journey of discovery.
Miss M. grew up in a theologically liberal Church and we talked for more than an hour about what the Bible has to say, what my Church teaches, what her family’s Church taught and what each represents. It was wonderful to be able to talk at length with someone who was obviously thinking deeply about these things. I encouraged her into the three most important Christian disciplines: Prayer, Bible study, and attending a faithful Church.
Mr Blue Coat came up whilst I was preaching and began to debate the Bible and science. There were many points back and forth; during the debate I attempted to show that atheists just like Christians believe the following: the universe was created from nothing (big bang), life’s beginnings are an inexplicable miracle (abiogenesis), that there is structure and purpose in the world, and that there is morality and dignity inherent in all people. Having shown this (only in part I’m sure) I then pointed out that having no cause for any of these makes atheism a much less rational and more credulous option than Christianity that has a transcendent supernatural moral personal cause for all this. I urged him to consider these things and the almost shocking lack of support for atheism. I urged Mr Blue Coat and the others who had gathered to listen to put their trust in Jesus Christ who orders all of life and transforms our search for meaning, origin, and destiny.
Mr C. came after I had finished preaching and asked a perennial question, why do you do this? It is a question that I have answered before. It leads me to think of the thousands running headlong into hell, of the debauched dancing in the darkness as the demons gather, of the thoughtless sleeping as their spiritual house burns around them, of the rebels raging against the only one who truly loves, of sinners with soul cancer and no knowledge of the cure.
I think of these and the fact that many of them would never darken the door of a church. Then I ask, how can you not speak the gospel every chance you get?
Praise to Jesus Christ our Saviour who calls us out of darkness!
Operation 513 joined up with Sports Fan Outreach in Romford for outreach on the High Street from 10 AM to 5 PM. It was market day, so there were many people out and about.
It was a relaxed atmosphere that was great for preaching, conversations and tract handout. Bill Adams preached first for about an hour, followed Gerry Collins and then me. We did this twice by 3 PM.
A young man asked if he could touch my Gideon's Bible and I told him that he could have it. He was very chuffed and gave me a hug. I took a picture of him with Dorothy Boyett. I had long conversations with Terry, who became a Christian, having been born into a liberal Jewish family. Michael talked about the sudden death of his wife and his frustration with the glib answers he got from religious people. I spoke sincerely about the difficulty when one spouse dies, that older people may indeed be very lonely, but that Christ sustains us in old age. I pointed him to C. S. Lewis and his book on the bereavement of his wife, "A Grief Observed". Maybe it was enough to agree with Michael that bereavement is difficult and that C. S. Lewis came to the point where he could let go of his wife and love God even more for the experience of marriage late in life.
It started raining after 11:30 and the crowds dwindled, but it was a great day for outreach.
As I walked into the city this morning, I was looking for some motivation and I thought of one other religious group that is often in Cathedral Square, day in, day out, handing out their material. It encouraged me. If they can do it, so can I.
Low and behold, as I get to The Square - there they are. I smiled. This must be worth it - they wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.
But as I write this, I realise how wrong my attitude was. All the motivation I need is:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
ESV (Mt 28:18–20)
And yet, today was a day of great encouragement. In spite of the cold and often cloudy weather, and the lack of people about (the market stalls didn’t even bother coming out today!), I had an almost constant run of Gospel conversations - especially in the first outreach from 11am till 1pm. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the time and it was already 1:07pm and time for a lunch break.
I was having so many conversations, I pulled out my phone to start writing down names so I wouldn’t forget to write about those conversations in this log. And even as I was doing that, an atheist walked up to my flip chart and wanted to talk! He was at a crossroads in his life. All praise to God, the fish were jumping into the boat!
I’m looking at that list, and in the two hours before lunch, I had eight Gospel interactions.
I’ll give two very special highlights that jump out at me. Both were connected to previous Gospel conversations I had earlier in the year.
The first was with two young people, and I could see they had a lot of hurts, both physically and in other ways too. I approached them as they looked like friends (by the way they dressed) of two other young people I spoke to earlier in the year. It was a place to start the conversation with. And, indeed, they were friends - so I asked them to let them know I was praying for them. But I cared for them too and wanted to share the precious message of eternal life. One had a Christian background. As I was sharing the Gospel, I could see him tearing up a little.
The second was with another young man. I was incredibly encouraged to learn that this guy had been watching me out on the streets. I could tell he was really wrestling with the Gospel and also with the way I dealt with life. He is struggling with sin, and other life issues that I don’t need to talk about.
Oh, how my heart cries out for these people as I’m writing about them now! How desperately do I want them to know the change that can come through the amazing grace of Christ. I’m praying that they would be saved from sin and hell.
Due to the wonderful outreach before lunch, I decided to stay right where I was after lunch - instead of moving to the hospital. And, although not as busy, I had many wonderful Gospel opportunities. I open air preached. And I had a wonderful opportunity to share with a man (pictured, walking away) from Myanmar (I’ve been on two short term missions there, and will be going again in September)!
I praise God for the encouragement I received on these two outreaches today.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I was again in Riccarton for outreach, and had three solid Gospel conversations with people. But beforehand I had been letterbox dropping closer to the University.
As I was doing this, I had two opportunities to share the Gospel with students as they were walking past. One of those students was particularly open and seemed impacted by the logic of the message.
So two wonderful days of outreach. A good reminder to not be discouraged and to trust God as we step out to reach people. He is working. He is seeking and saving the lost!
Thank you for praying for and supporting the Christchurch Operation 513 team - we so need and appreciate it.
On Monday as usual the team of four spent the afternoon in Capalaba sharing the message of God's offer of forgiveness for sinners to anyone who had time and was willing to listen!
There was an encouraging conversation with Zach, a young man who usually is a bit silly. At first he was with his friend and they were being very silly but it wasn't long and his friend left and Nathan started to engage. He saw that we know God exists, he saw the desperate position of guilt that he is in and he was taking it very seriously.
It was encouraging to see that Zach went from being silly to concentrating. It took him a little while to understand the gospel and even at the end although he seemed to be able to repeat back the answer it is unsure if he had fully comprehended it. Please be praying for another opportunity to follow up with Zach in the future to once again talk about the gospel and to challenge him to give up sin for Christ.
Nathan spoke to the team as well. His friend also was sitting with him when the conversation started but wasn't interested and walked away. Nathan on the other hand was keen and came to understand the simple and beautiful gospel to the point that he was moved and wanted to know more. When the gospel and the response was presented it took him three attempts to understand the simplicity of faith alone. When he finally understood he said that he would trust in Christ today.
He was warned of the cost and was challenged to consider if he really meant what he said about trusting in Christ. He was encouraged to read a Bible and to start attending a local Church. Please be praying that Nathan would be serious, that he would trust in Christ today and that he would start reading his Bible!
There was a man soon after named Kennedy who had spoken to the team around Easter time. He could still remember the gospel but said that he had not yet trusted in Christ. He was still living in and loving his sin. He was challenged this very day to trust Christ knowing that tomorrow isn't guaranteed!
Similarly a conversation with Monique took place. She too had spoken to the team before but had a little bit of trouble remembering how someone receives the gift of forgiveness. She was once again reminded and she too was challenged to trust in Christ. Sadly the conversation wasn't overly long as her bus arrived very quickly.
This was then followed by a chat with Erica. Erica started the chat by saying, "I spoke to you about three months ago", she said she couldn't remember much of the conversation but when asked about the way to Heaven could remember it. She then added, "Since our chat I've been going to Church every week". It seemed as though she had trusted in Christ alone for her forgiveness and was slowly growing in her love for and understanding of God!
Next up was Devin who said that all people who believe God exists will get to Heaven. He was then taken straight into the gospel and understood it without much effort. It seemed that he comprehended it and said that he would consider it. This was very different from Vladim who attends a local Baptist Church.
Vladim said that his goodness would gain him a place in Heaven and was show by God's law that his righteousness would not be enough rather that the only thing we earn by our lives is Hell. He didn't get to hear of Christ though because he was blind to his own sin and didn't want to talk anymore.
To add to the joy of the afternoon Fynn heard and understood the gospel as well. As the conversation took place a man nearby interrupted and started trying to butt in but quietened down quickly when he was ignored. Fynn on the other hand, despite having a Christian background came to understand that sinners are forgiven simply based on their faith in Christ and it has nothing to do with good works. Fynn understood and even asked some questions himself to clarify. He said he was excited to have a read of his Bible when he got home and was thankful for the chat saying that he would consider trusting in Christ today!
The man who had interrupted was approached and asked a question or two but showed that it wasn't really a problem with the conversation that he had, it was a problem with God. He didn't really have any answers to simple questions or any real arguments him simply said, "The Bible was written by men". God in His providence knew what was best and bought along his bus so that the conversation couldn't continue.
Over all it was an exciting afternoon where God glorified Himself through the simple proclamation of the gospel. Please be praying for those today who were reminded of or heard for the first time how a sinner can be forgiven!